tv Your Bottom Line HLN August 1, 2009 3:30pm-4:00pm EDT
hello. i'm gerri willis. this is "your bottom line" the show that saves you money. the future of your health care debated on capitol hill. how you can ensure you get the best possible care at the best price. avoid getting taken for a ride. the top ways you're getting ripped off and what you can do about it. and the cost of college. where to find the best financial aid and which schools are the best value. "your bottom line" starts right now. we begin with what could be some glimmers of hope, yes hope in the housing market. according to the s&p home price index the index of homes has increased and prices have gone up for the first time in three
years. new home sales rose 11%, the highest increase in almost nine years, and existing home sales are up 3.6%. positive signs suggesting that the worst may, just may be behind us. folks across the country continue to complain that the obama administration's affordable loan modification plan is not gaining enough traction. the treasury department talked to mortgage firls sayims saying time to pick up the pace. here to discuss this is the president and ceo of the national community reinvestment coalition. welcome, john. good to see you. >> hey, gerri. nice to see you. >> i want to show you and our viewers some numbers here. it really describes what's going on. you see the pace of foreclosures starts higher and higher and then the pace of loan mods not keeping track at all with foreclosures. what's going on here? why isn't the president's plan getting more traction? >> well, for one, it's really
dependent -- it's a voluntary system dependent upon these services who manage the loans, so banks and investors to voluntarily come in and participate in the program. that's been slow to come. it was slow to come under the bush administration and it's slow to come under this administration. >> why don't they want to -- why don't they want to help? i mean, what's the holdup? >> well, i think for one that a lot of the investors and services are waiting for the market to turn around so they don't have to take as big a hit so they're sitting tight. a lot of them don't have the capacity. they didn't staff up. and then for another group of services and investors they want to offer something less than what the president is offering. the president's proposal, making home affordable, actually will keep people in their homes long term. a lot of these services want to offer something less than that that may result in another foreclosure or another modification. >> wow. >> but they don't have to give
as much. >> last week we asked you to write in and share your experiences with making home affordable and we got lots and lots of responses. what's really interesting here is now these responses are going to the next problem in the market and that's unemployment. that's forcing people into foreclosure as well. >> that's right. >> i want to turn now to two viewers. we promised we'd bring you on air and we are. one is marty stall in phoenix and alfonso hall who joins us now from omaha, nebraska. i want to start here with marty and alfonso i'll get back to you in a second. marty, you tried to get in on the president's making home affordable program. the next day after he announced it. tell us about your story about trying to get a loan mod and why you were seeking one. >> well, i'm seeking a loan mod because as you mentioned many of us are unemployed. i was laid off in february, 2008, and was starting to run out of savings and the president's announcement sounded
great. so what i did is the next morning i called up wells fargo and they told me that i had to wait until april to file and then the beginning of april they told me to still wait. i finally got to file on april 15th. i think that they accepted the filing or whatever they call it on april 22nd. then i waited more and called every week to find out what was going on. >> you're really not getting traction here, right? >> no. >> but he's still frustrated. he's not getting through and he's lost his job. so now he is in the worst of all worlds. is there anybody to turn to at this point? >> yeah, i mean, lenders, again, i would, you know, if you weren't satisfied with the people who were trying to help you, the fact that they contacted was nice but you really -- you really need to contact an agency and i'll give you a number, marty, in a second.
or legal aid that has the kind of leverage. wells fargo i know for a fact is willing to work with some consumers. they weren't willing to work with you and i don't know the particular facts relating to you but there are lefvers that will get these major banks to work with consumers. >> marty, we'll hook you and john up and you can have a conversation about how to go forward but, again, it's often getting somebody just focused on your case who actually knows how to work the system. >> that's right. >> i want to turn to alphonso because he was successful in getting a modification and he didn't use a service. he did it on his own. he's joining us by beeper now. tell us, how did you do it? how did you make it happen? >> first of all, what i did was i made the phone call. that was the first, initial step. i was a little bit hesitant because i was a little behind from a car accident and called them and u.s. bank had started the process. first they fill out a form and found out what my income was and
if i was still eligible. sent it in. went through the process. and after the first of the year still hadn't heard anything. called every two weeks. wanted to get the status. nobody could give me any pertinent information. after the first of the year, there was a reduction in force at our company. i was laid off. >> wow. >> and that really double fold put me behind. called them in february. set me up on some type of three-month plan to make sure i could still make the payments. made them for three months. january called and said i've made my three payments for november, december, and january. where do we go from here? they said, continue to make the payments. >> wow. okay. >> and you'll get a letter in the mail. >> and did you. >> i got a letter from the vice president of u.s. bank and he said that my loan modification was approved. >> this is a really great success story. you did it on your own. but it took you a while. it took you i believe what, a year to get this?
health care is a hot topic these days with president obama pushing for a massive overhaul of the system. now, many of you have e-mailed us here at the show to express your concerns and ask questions about what these plans would mean to your bottom line. here to break it all down is a health editor of "u.s. news and world report" and the former director of the national institutes of health.
welcome, doctor. great to see you today. >> nice to see you, gerri. >> so i want to start with the dollars and cents of these plans. we've heard a lot of estimates about what they might cost, a trillion dollars over ten years. what i want to know is if these plans go into effect what will it cost me as a user of the plans? will my costs go up or will they go down? >> gerri, you're asking the question that every single american is asking. when a tax bill is passed or cap and trade and they say i have to pay an extra percent or 2% they understand what that means but here it's very, very hard to give any individual that answer. you know, we have the cbo looking out for the government to see how much the government is going to have to pay but we don't have the code for what individuals will have to pay. we do know for example that young people are going to have to pay more. >> okay. so young people will pay more. will the elderly pay more? will older people pay more? >> the elderly will pay more
because almost one-third or more than one-third of the money to pay for health reform is coming out of medicare. now, that means indirectly the elderly are making a huge donation to health reform to cover everyone else. there are also more subtle things in terms of restrictions on elderly care that we really won't see play out until health reform is fully in place. >> well, i really want to talk to you about that because there are big questions people are really concerned, if their treatment is going to be dialed back in any way. will there be limits to what kinds of procedures or treatments or drugs you can take because of this plan? >> here again, gerri, what we have are structures in place that will make determinations of this. for example, a health benefits committee or a health choices administration. and they will ultimately determine what people have to have in their insurance or what they'll have to pay out of their
pocket. so we don't know if our care is going to be dialed back and we won't know. >> well, certainly a massive program we're talking about here and there are lots of questions. not a ton of answers yet. we really appreciate your coming on and telling us about some of these issues that are emerging right now. we hope you continue to watch it for us. dr. healy, thanks for your time today. >> thank you, gerri. everyone wants the best insurance and care when they step in their doctor's office but that isn't always the case. how do you know when it's time to fire your doctor? that's right. you can fire your doctor. our guest is a neurologist and medical advisor for "consumer reports." yours is an amazing story. you fired not one doctor but two and in the space of a year so you really know how to do this. i think people have doctor problems. they have long wait times. they get frustrated. but when does that rise to the level of i've got to get this doctor out of here? >> right.
i think it is unfortunate but it's important for every patient to know that they have a choice and so if things are not going well in the office, if your doctor has a poor bedside manner or the staff is rude or you don't get telephone calls answered or you're kept waiting a very long period of time, it's just time for you to kind of take a look at the situation and decide if you really want to stay, if it's worth staying at that practice. >> would it make more sense before you just fire your doctor to maybe go to the office manager or someone and say, you know, look. i'm having prosecution. the doctor has a rude bedside manner. i'm waiting for an hour. would that maybe prompt some change? >> absolutely. you should always speak to the office staff first. and even try to make them your friends because you need them for all sorts of things from scheduling appointments to dealing with insurance problems, so have a good relationship with the office staff so that you can
talk about things like this when they get a little bit sticky. and also feel free to talk to the doctor if things are so intolerable that you're actually considering leaving. >> how long is too long to wait in an office, seriously? because i hear all kinds of horror stories about people waiting an hour, two hours. how long should you be willing to wait? >> that is such an individual question. i do think it's important for doctors to be respectful of your time but sometimes doctors get caught up in the emergency room or they get behind because of surgery and there are other unforeseen circumstances including emergencies that happen that just can't be helped and i think it's an individual question. if you love your doctor and it's just something that happens now and then because of those circumstances, then i certainly wouldn't recommend leaving. >> so you got to give me the nuts and bolts here. what do i need to do if i decided i'm going to fire my doctor what do i need to know? what paperwork do i take with me? are there any fees or charges?
>> you need to know that it's your medical right, your legal right to have your records and so it's probably best and the laws in states vary but to request those records in writing. sometimes there is a copying charge. there often is not. but it's definitely something that is within your legal rights and should be transferred to your next doctor because that doctor will need it in order to have the full information to help you take care of your health. >> thanks for your time today. we appreciate it. >> thank you very much. a new survey out says a public policy think tank reveals 52% of respondents citing medical expenses as contributing to credit card debt. other findings include 37% are relying on credit cards to cover basic living expenses like rent, utilities, and groceries. hispanics have the highest average credit card level while african-americans have the lowest. look, using your credit card as
a plastic safety net never works well because the price of doing that is so high. interest and penalty fees can easily escalate your monthly bill. a better strategy for getting money in a real bind is break certificates of deposit or turning to family for a loan. if that's not possible consider contacting your creditors directly and asking for help. they may well extend the period you have to pay them back or forgive fees. in this climate, any payment is better than no payment from their point of view. it's time to start thinking about back to school. we have the list of the best college values in the country next.
hifer education certainly doesn't come cheap and if you're a parent or student or know a parent or student we'll show you how to find a perfect college for your budget. joining us now is the author of "the princeton review best 371 colleges." okay. robert, you do this the right way. you actually interview students to find out what they think. they're the ones who are living this thing so they are a great source. let's walk through some colleges now. which schools make their students happiest with financial aid? it's all about financial aid this year. >> you're so right. we consider those college experts, current college
students and ask their experiences academically and otherwise and certainly around financial aid especially this year there is such a spotlight and frenzy. >> everybody is having such a hard time. there are virtually no private loans. what is the best school for financial aid? >> right now rated by our students is swarthmore college in pennsylvania. it's $47,800. >> ouch. >> but they're giving out amazing amounts of aid and students are actually graduating with no loan debt so they're meeting that aid 100%. >> wow. where are students least happy about their financial aid? >> this year it is nyu. they have been a usual suspect on our list and with a price tag of around $48,000, $49,000 a year students are graduating with big loans from nyu on average about $35,500 after they finish their four-year degree. >> that's a lot of debt. it's expensive to live in new york so maybe that's part of the story, too. let's talk about best values. public and private, start with the private school. what is the best value out
there? i assume you're looking at what you're getting for the money. >> that's true. we tried to look at what you were getting for the money but also the experience a student was earning, wanted to make sure they were challenged, had good teachers, encouraged class discussions and then sticker prices and the financial aid factors. were they meeting your needs 100%? what percentage overall were the student needs met and then the average indebtedness students were graduating with. this year's number one private school is again swarthmore college. >> they are winning every category. >> they are. well deserved. when we start tongue abo think e student experience they are unapologetic about saying how clearly wonderful their teachers are and also the financial aid value they get as well. >> let's go to the public school. >> university of virginia number one on the list. >> great school. >> excellent school. students in state about $16,300 tuition. >> you have to live there to get that price. >> for an out of state student $35,500. the average aid package is
around the $35,000 mark so they are able to do the near impossible which is to meet the students' needs 100%. >> one of the most important things about a college right now for some of these students is what are the career services like? that translates into are you going to help me get a job when i graduate? so many of these kids come out of school right now and cannot find a job. who has the best career service program? >> number one on our list this year is university of florida and again, rated by its students. university of florida is an exceptional school academically, a big school, but the center there is staffed with 17 full-time professionals all devoted to career services inside and outside the classroom so experiential learning activities. >> okay. parents want to know and students want to know what is the best party school. >> number one, voted by students, again -- actually penn state has been a usual suspect on the list but this is the first time it's in the number one spot. >> okay. so slowly climbing in the
rankings. i don't know if that's a positive or not. thank you so much for your time today. >> a pleasure to be here. >> really appreciate it. all right. listen up. don't get ripped off. i have to repeat that. don't get ripped off. grab a pen and paper. we're going to show you how to avoid getting duped. )%)%)%)%)%)%